Do You Know Your OUI/DUI Rights?

When you are stopped by a police officer in Massachusetts who suspects you of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence (OUI), you’re faced with having to make a number of choices.

You may be surprised to learn that some requests by an officer are within your rights to decline; others are not.

Click Here to download a PDF version of Attorney Oberhauser’s business card which includes your rights printed on the back.

What if the officer asks you…

Have you been drinking?

The answer to this question can be incriminating, thus, you have the right not to answer it when asked by law enforcement.

Can I see your license, registration and proof of insurance?

You must provide these items upon request by law enforcement. Have them in a place that is easy to access and easy to retrieve them. Above your sun visor is a great place to store this information.

Will you please exit the vehicle?

If a police officer asks you to exit your vehicle, you do not have to comply. Be polite and respectful. If they say you are under arrest, then you must comply.

Now, what are your rights if the officer tells you to…

Take field sobriety tests

You cannot be forced to submit to field sobriety tests in the State of Massachusetts. You have to right to decline these tests and are well advised not to take them.

The eye test is subjective and has no objective verification regarding your performance. The Walk and Turn and One Leg stand are almost impossible to perform to law enforcement standards in a stressful situation whether alcohol has been consumed or not.

Most important, studies have shown that the police will fail perfectly sober people on these tests an astounding 46% of the time.

Take a preliminary breath test

You do not have to take this test. The results cannot be used against you and can only be used by the officer in his decision to arrest or not arrest a person. If you are willing to take this test, do not agree to do it unless the officer first agrees to show you the result.

Three last questions you may have regarding your DUI/OUI rights…

Do I have a right to an attorney after my arrest?

Once a person is arrested or is otherwise detained by law enforcement, you have the right to call and consult an attorney. In Massachusetts, law enforcement will not let you call an attorney before making a decision to take a breath test. Welcome to Massachusetts.

Do I have to submit to breath and/or chemical (blood or urine) tests?

The testing at the station is what determines license suspension periods if any. The police get to decide which form of testing (breath or chemical) they request. A person does not have to consent to the withdrawal of their blood.

In a hospital setting after an accident, you can refuse to have your blood drawn.

Refusal to take a breath or chemical test can result in a suspension of driving privileges. There are benefits and drawbacks to both decisions. If this is your first arrest ever for OUI/DUI and you refuse the test, your privilege of driving in Massachusetts will be suspended for 180 days. If you have prior arrests for such an offense, the suspension will be longer.

Can my test samples be independent tested?

A person has a constitutional right to preserve evidence in their own defense. A specific request must be made to do so though for this right to be exercised. You have a right to have your own independent test conducted. The police will tell you this during the reading of your Rights, You should make this request with and through a qualified lawyer.

Additional Resource: Knowing Your Rights When You are Questioned by The Police

A great article posted at titled “I Don’t Answer Questions” Witness the Power of Remaining Silent provides valuable information for anyone stopped and questioned by the police for any reason not just drunk driving.

The information in the article explains the 5th Amendment is to protect the innocent but it must be used correctly. For example, you have to actually say, “I do not answer questions”.

Click Here to download a PDF version of Attorney Oberhauser’s business card which includes your rights printed on the back.

Watch A Compilation of “I Do not Answer Questions” When Stopped by the Police